Practicing medicine has never been more challenging, being a patient has never been more confusing.
On a daily basis in my practice of Gastroenterology I am confronted with patients who offer me offerings obtained from the internet with questions and anxieties regarding the latest "Information".
This approach to health care opens up opportunities for expanding the 'Integrative" approach to healing. As a physician I am challenged to answer the questions, make sense of the assertions that are offered, and become a voice of "reason" amidst all the confusing, conflicting material.
I welcome this opportunity. But part of the initial challenge for me is remain open to all new material while imploring the patient to follow m y line of reasoning as I respond. A reasoned, integrative attitude incorporates an ultimate evaluation of the risk and benefit of each and every treatment decision.
I find that some patients have already decided that what they have read is correct, regardless of my comments and thoughts. I do try to gently remind them that although they may be extremely intelligent and capable of reading medically-related writing, they are not completely capable of discerning truth from fiction.
There is much on the internet which IS reasonable and rational. I will often respond by telling the patient that I need some time to investigate the new claim. There is, I'm afraid, much mis-information which is cleverly written to seem rational.
In my particular field, the area that comes to mind is the claim that one can obtain meaningful weight loss by purchasing certain colon cleansing products. This is complete, utter nonsense. Yet it is cleverly couched in medical sounding terms and concepts.
My intention in this posting is -to begin to address the difficulties of practicing medicine today–on the part of the practitioner and the patient/consumer.
But I regard them as opportunities to integrate a more holisitc approach including what are known as mind/body, and alternative therapies.
Hopefully we can all adopt an open-minded attitude in which the patient's thoughts and concerns are respected as well as physician's experience and expertise.
Facing an enormous sea of information what is required is a consensus approach,mutually chosen, which offers the patient the best hope of healing.